Energy History Online is a free educational website for teachers and students of energy history supported by Yale University.  

Leading energy historians have curated teaching units on the site appropriate for classroom use.  These teaching units can serve as the basis for seminar and lecture courses in energy history, or to add bits of energy history content to general history classes. Teaching materials include textual documents, photographs, video, and other media. At the present time, the site’s teaching content is limited to United States history, but we hope to expand its geographic scope in the future.

Each curated teaching unit includes a short overview, primary sources with historical context and questions, a timeline of related events, and additional reading suggestions. The teaching units use the history of different fuels to explore broader issues related to law and property, corporate power, labor and working conditions, gender and technology, architecture and design, and government planning. The broader social and cultural context of energy, and the role of societal decisions in shaping technological systems, is a recurring historical theme.

Individual primary source items also are available in a library of teaching items. Users can sort the individual items by fuel type, energy sector, date, document type, and keywords. The library includes additional historical source materials, beyond those used by individual teaching units, and will grow over time. The site’s resources page includes links to other useful websites, energy history music, source citations, and other information.

We also have developed a companion site, Energy Basics, to provide concise instructional materials to help teach basic energy science concepts in the context of humanities and social science courses.

Get Involved

Energy History Online is an evolving collaborative project. We continue to add new primary source materials and other resources for teachers, and we are developing new teaching units for classroom use. If you have used the website for teaching, please let us know by sending us a short email!

You can help by providing feedback on the website– what has worked well for you in the classroom? What could be improved? You also can propose primary source items for the library.

You can contact us at energyhistory@gmail.com.


Project Director: 

Paul Sabin, Yale University

Faculty Teaching Unit Authors:

Daniel Barber, University of Pennsylvania

B. Alex Beasley, University of Texas at Austin

Bathsheba Demuth, Brown University

James Feldman, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

Ann Norton Greene, University of Pennsylvania

Christopher Jones, Arizona State University

Gabriel Lee, Putney School

Trish Kahle,  Georgetown University Qatar

Chad Montrie, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

Additional special thanks to faculty collaborators and advisors:

Cutler J. Cleveland, Boston University; Jennifer Eaglin, Ohio State University; Robert Lifset, University of Oklahoma; Tyler Priest, University of Iowa; Ariel Ron, Southern Methodist University; Raechel Lutz, Wardlaw + Hartridge School; Elizabeth Chatterjee, University of Chicago; Diana Montaño, Washington University in St. Louis, Ian Miller, Harvard University; Abby Spinak, Harvard University; Sarah Stanford-Mcintyre, University of Colorado, Boulder; Conevery Bolton Valencius, Boston College; Christopher Wells, Macalaster College.

Research Support and Coordination: Creation of this website has benefited from the terrific research assistance provided by Connor Compton, Jamie Cooper, Marc Gonzalez, Hilary Griggs, Dylan Gunn, Ken Huynh, Clara Ma, Bennet Parten, Camden Smithtro, Christopher Sung, Walter Thulin, and Ben Zdencanovic. Molly Harris, Dante LaRiccia, and Sarah Pickman helped develop this teaching site as research coordinators.

Technical support and design has been provided by Pamela Patterson and the staff of the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning and YaleSites.

Project financial support has been provided by Yale University through the Yale Planetary Solutions Project, Yale College Environmental Studies, Yale Department of History, and the Rosenkranz Award for Pedagogical Advancement.